Onward Morman Soldiers
Have you watched "Saving Private Ryan"; you know that Tom Hanks war movie where he leads a small platoon of men on a mission to save one soldier. If you have then you know that part of the movie was about the camaraderie, the bonding between the men as they trekked across country, dodged bullets and so on. "Saving Private Ryan" wasn't the first war movie to focus on that bond and it wasn't the last which leads me to "Saints and Soldiers" a war movie made for less than $1,000,000 which basically serves up a storyline full of that camaraderie. Considering the low budget it is quite impressive and thanks to the small cast has a good if not entirely accurate look but it doesn't break any new ground or does anything to make it better than any other war movie.
Following the massacre in Malmedy 4 American soldiers manage to escape with just one gun and head off into the countryside where they come across a British intelligent officer who having parachuted out of a plane before it crashed needs to get to the allies with the information. As they battle through terrible weather and dodge the various German troops they come across the 5 men bond, discovering things about each other along the way.
As I said "Saints and Soldiers" is actually quite impressive considering it was made for less than what some actors in main stream pictures get paid. It has that "Saving Private Ryan" slightly washed out look and whilst I am told that some of what we see is questionable when it comes to authenticity, such as uniforms, it does capture the right visual tone. The locations also help and whilst you could moan that we hear the wind but the trees never move the snowy woodland adds to that impressive look.
But the trouble is that once you get past the look "Saints and Soldiers" isn't that special and basically retreads a familiar story of soldiers bonding whilst they try to make it back through enemy lines. Maybe if you haven't watched many war movies from the 50's and 60's this will be brilliant but it ends up just a modern version of an old story embellished by modern cameras to make it look better. Having said that it does what it sets out to do which is to be a story of bonding as along the way the men talk, they share secrets and so on.
Now there is an aspect to "Saints and Soldiers" I have not mentioned, that is the fact it appears to be a Mormon production with the majority of the soldiers being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Why is that significant, well depending how much the movie grips you depends on whether you get the message in the movie or not. It didn't really grip me and whilst it was obvious to what was going on it didn't bother me either but for those who are devoutly religious might not feel as charitable as I was.
What this all boils down to is that when you take into account the small budget "Saints and Soldiers" is impressive as it has a great look. But beyond that it doesn't break any new ground as it delivers another story of men bonding as they make it through enemy territory.